How Do I Transfer a Domain?

9 Mar 2017 / Aliesha Ellington

Transferring your domain from one host to another may seem like an involved process requiring a lot of legwork. However, the steps are actually quite straightforward. Things may seem complicated because the exact steps involved vary by registrar, and the entire process can require a few days to complete.

Defining Domain Terms

A domain name uses theDomain Name System (DNS)to link the text address to server information, such as an IP address, the location of the mail server that receives messages for a domain or subdomain, or more obscure elements like a cryptographic signature that can determine the rightful owner of a domain.

Domains are both registered and hosted. Registration involves working with a domain name registrar. The registrar acts as a middleman to let you request a domain name, and interacts with a central registry for a given top-level domain (TLD), whether that’s .com, .org, .uk, or one of many others. This ensures that the same name is not registered twice.

The central registry keeps track of your ownership details, which is broken down into ownership, technical, administrative, and billing contacts with associated mailing and email addresses.

Some web hostsallow you to purchase domain names separately from hosting plans. If you registered the domain with a company and host with another, you have the option of keeping the registration where it is and pointing it to the Domain Name Server (DNS) of the web host. The customer support section of the registrar's website can help you do this.

Update Your Contact Details

Before you begin the process, you’ll want to ensure that your contact details are up to date. Both your old registrar and your new one will need to contact you during the transfer process, so best to ensure that the correct email addresses are listed. You can update your contact information from your current registrar's domain control panel.

If your email service is tied to their domain, you will likely lose access to your email service for your domain name during the domain transfer process. Ensure that you have another email account that you can use as a secondary means of communication.

Preparing to Transfer

It is important that you have your new hosting service completely set up at the new location before you initiate the DNS host move. This will reduce or eliminate any interruption in receiving emails or handling visitors at your site.

Note that you cannot transfer your domain if it was created or transferred within the last 60 days. This is arequirement mandated by ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) - the organization that manages addresses on the Internet.

Remove Private Registration

If you’ve opted for “private” registration with a domain host, it adds another step for you to take care of first. Private registration puts your domain in an escrow in which the DNS host registers the domain in its name, even though you own it. Those trying to pull information out of the public registration records can’t get at your mailing address, phone number, or email.

You need to turn off private registration and wait for the central registry to update its records with your actual details before proceeding. Once this is done, you can proceed as the rest of the steps are the same.

Unlock the Domain Name

The process for this varies depending on your current registrar, but you should be able to unlock your domain from the Domain section of your domain control panel. Make this request to your current domain registrar.

Authorisation Code

Typically, domain name registries assign authorisation codes to domain names. So, you probably obtained one when you registered your domain name. Authorisation codes are unique to each domain and provide an extra level of security to protect domain names from unauthorised transfers.

To get your domain authorisation code, simply make a request to your current domain registrar. You should be provided with the authorisation code within five days of your request. Some registrars will send your code via email, while others will allow you to generate your code in the domain control panel.

Read the New Registrar’s Support Pages

Thedomain transfer processwill vary from one service provider to the next, so be sure to read the instructions for transferring domains on the support page.

Enter Authorisation Code

When asked, enter the authorisation code you received from your old registrar. Ensure that you enter the correct code, otherwise the transfer will not process properly.

Verify that You Are Authorizing the Transfer

Shortly after, your old registrar would contact you - asking if you authorized the transfer. You will either be emailed or called, using the information you have provided to your old registrar. Confirm to your old registrar that the transfer was authorised by you.

Confirm Registration Terms and Billing

Usually, you need to pay for your domain to be transferred. Some service providers require that you automatically renew your subscription for an additional year when you transfer. Depending on the extension of the domain you are transferring then you may be able to do this for no cost.

Wait for the Settings to Transfer

Your new registrar will configure DNS and name servers for you, once the transfer has been authorized. After the new registrar has set up the transfer, it could take a few days for your DNS changes to be recognized worldwide. Your website should still be available.

Confirm Privacy Settings

Some domain registrars allow you to mask your domain registration information so that your contact information is not available to the general public when a WHOIS search is performed. Instead, the registrar's information will be displayed, hiding your name, phone number, address, and email. In some cases, this privacy may be at an additional cost.

Cancel Your Old Service

Once the transfer is complete, you can cancel your service with your old registrar. Make sure the transfer is completely successful before doing so, or yourwebsitemay go down until the transfer goes into effect worldwide.

If you follow the steps above, you should be able to transfer your domain without issues. If you get stuck at any stage of the process, the support team at your domain registrar should be able to help you out.

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